Korea, We Love Thee

Having a Korean intern in my classroom is year has been an amazing experience for me and for my students. Having a different perspective in my classroom helped me be a better teacher. It made me think more about what I do and why I do it. Having a mo international perspective has been wonderful. Our education system is always compared to the Asian education system, it is great to hear about their system. I learn about the why's and the how's of their system. There a some great things and some not-so-great things. But I also think that is the same with our system, great and not-so-great.

I think all classrooms should have this opportunity. It is such a benefit for my students. Having an international connection in a global world. Students need to know about the global world. Having this little connection is wonderful for them to learn about the world outside our community, outside our country. What a great experience. Thank you Sun Woo, Lina*, Jenni*, Stephanie*,and all the other interns.

*some interns used American names to make it easier for the students to say their names.
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Do You Know My Child?

I read an article by Angela Maiers about Parent-Teacher conferences. She looked at these conferences from a parent view and came up with a couple questions she wanted to know about here child. After she had her conference she was disappointed that the questions she had were not answered.
Who is my child to you?
Who are they as readers, writers, community members?
What makes them unique?
What are they passionate about?
How do they add value to your class and the wider community?
What makes you proud?
As I read through these questions I though about my students and tried to answer these questions. Do I know my students well enough and do I pay attention to their actions to answer these questions? So this is my goal for the rest of this year is to pay attention to the little things in my students and make sure I can answer these questions to my parents.

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Really? We want this?

I have the pleasure of having a Korean intern in my fifth grade class. She has taught us about Korean culture and some of the most fascinating things about Korea. She was unsure about how the students were receiving her lessons because they did not ask questions or respond to her. I felt they loved the lessons. I did tell her they might respond to things they can compare to what they know. So I asked her to talk about elementary school in Korea. This was very interesting.

She discussed what schools look like, how the classes look, and what the playgrounds were like. the students were interested that they have sand playgrounds instead of grass. They were amazed at the five story elementary schools and six or more classes per grade in one school. The time schedule was also interesting. It changes from day to day. In our school we have a similar schedule each day with few changes throughout the week. Everyday in our intern's school was different. They also went to school every other Saturday. The time schedule was the same with school starting at 9:00 and ending at 3:00. One diffence was the time of the classes. There were 50 minute classes with 10 minute of play in-between all classes. Lunch was eaten in the classrooms with a 30 minute break after eating.

The school classes and curriculum are very similar to my school. They do have music and art as full classes a couple times a week. We fit it in where we can. That is a big difference. Hey have a moral class where they teach about being a good member of society. This class is similar to our health education (not PE). One class that is very interesting to me is the practical class. In this class they teach students how to cook, sew, clean, and other day to day practical activities. They learn to sew on buttons, make small toys, and end up making a pillow. They also cook foods and the principal comes in to try the foods. These are the extra classes that fit into their schedule that we do not have. If we had these kids of classes full time, we would need to come on Saturdays also.

I do not think this is why we are behind their scores in education. It is what happens after school that makes the difference. In Korea, about 75% of school children attend after school Academies. These are classes that run about an hour and a half to two hours. Each academy is specialized to one subject. Some students have two to three academies to go to after school. This means they are in school about four hours each day after school. After academies they do their homework for school and academies. Students do not have a lot to time to play or do extracurricular activities. The other 25% have music or sports academies to go to after school.

The pressure is immense. Test scores are very important. Expectations are high. Stress of achieving is great. Parents spend upwards of $500 a month for academies. Students do not always have a way to be kids. They play when all their homework is done. If they have two academies and school, they are going to school from 9am until about 8 pm. They they do their homework for all classes, which is about two hours. They will finish about 10:00 and take little time to play and head to bead about 11 to 12. They get up the next morning to be at school about 8am to be ready for school. Sleep is important, but for an elementary school child in Korea, it is about 6 hours. With all the pressure and emphasis on test scores, there is suicide. Even in elementary school there is the chance of suicide. It is not uncommon. If a test does not go as planned or the score is not high enough, the child feels the stress.

Do we want this? Really? Do we want to pressure out students to get 100% all the time? They are kids, and they will fail from time to time. We need to be careful what we do with our children.

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John Ford, Teaching Fractions

John Ford, Title One Mathematics Coordinator, West Virginia DOE
When dividing fractions we think of it as a multiplication problem instead of division. We need to have the students explain their answers so they can understand their thought process and make sense of the math. This also helps us see where their problems are.

There was an identification of the problem, but there was no solution or plan to find a solution. He suggested the PLC should find this information out.

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Alan Sitomer, Hookin' Boys

Alan Sitomer, English Teacher, Lynwood High School, Title One Conference, Tampa Bay
Our national graduation rate is about 68%. That means about 1 out of every 3 students does not graduate. Boys graduation rate is about 64% and girls about 72%. We are witnessing the girls taking over the education oef themselves and the boys are giving up. If we can get them to understand we are doing it for them, they will get it.

The recession has hit people hard and the one piece of education that has not been hit is assessment. Assessment keeps getting bigger. To grow an elephant you need to feed it, not perpetually weigh it.

If you are not educated you will not make it in the world. Studies show a bachelors degree will make approximately 1 million more than those without, over a lifetime. People with a masters degree will make approximately 1.3 million more than on without.

Drop outs self sabotage themselves. 84 % of prisoners do not have a high school diploma. We spend approximately $80,000 a year for incarcerated individuals and about $8,000 a year per child.about 1 out of 100 adults in the US have or are in jail. America is the 1 in incarnation.

State corrections are now using student literacy levels as penitentiary forecasters to allow them to project how many prison beds they will need over the course of the subsequent decade.

I can see the problems we are having in education. I agree that there is a problem and I like the idea of a moratorium of building assessments because the education has a need to assess everything, but as Alan has said, we don't grow an elephant by weighing it everyday. Alan had a lot of facts and data yet the information about motivation to get success is not new. We all have that problem and the solution is engagement, but there was not specifics, just facts and figures. Alan did remind me that our job is very important and I do need to do more.

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Manuel Scott talk

Manuel Scott spoke at the Distinguished Schools Luncheon. Talked about how he hated school. He had bad experiences in school with teachers. They did not keep track of him. He moved around more than 25 times during his education. He felt that he was meant to fail. Why should he try. A man told him, you can become the father you never had. Your future can be better than your past.
He is here to impress upon us to see those kids that come unto our schools that one kind word to a child can make all the difference. He speaks for the kids that have been left and lost and forgotten. Look for those that need our help. Look for the kids in the back of the classroom. Find those that are lost and forgotten. Make sure all students know they are cared about. Connect to the children.
If by Rudyard Kipling

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Out of the Ordinary

It is the things that we do that are out of the ordinary that make the difference. Not the ones at are the same day after day activities that teach the basics. The basics will be taught and learned, it is the lessons that we do that are not on the lesson plans that will touch and teach others to rise above.

Looking at stories like, Freedom Writers, Lean on Me, Dangerous Minds, Stand by Me, and Teachers, it is the out of ordinary teachers that make the diffence. The ones that teach what they are supposed to, yet add in something a little different to help students.

We do need to be a little different to bring our kids what they need.

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